What is it?
This might just be the pick of the new Skoda Fabia model range.
You see, while the facelifted Fabia hatch ticked all the right boxes so far as comfort and refinement were concerned when we first drove it in the Czech Republic a few months back, we found that the old Fabia's unique selling point - that of offering superior levels of practicality compared to its rivals - didn’t necessarily apply anymore. Both the Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo offer larger boots, are more engaging to drive and, as far as price is concerned, don’t cost a huge amount more, either.
Now, though, we’ve experienced the updated 2018 Fabia on UK roads, and this time around it’s the vastly more practical Fabia estate that’s being put under the microscope.
As with the hatch, the Fabia estate is available with a range of 1.0-litre three-cylinder MPI and TSI power plants, with outputs ranging from 74bhp to 109bhp. Suspension, meanwhile, is by way of MacPherson struts at the front and a torsion beam at the rear. Our £17,750 SE L-specification test car made use of the most powerful motor, which was paired with a six-speed manual gearbox.
What's it like?
The Fabia quickly proved itself up for the task of navigating through the gridlock of our urban test route. The taxing nature of sitting in stop/start traffic in a car equipped with a manual gearbox was made easier thanks to the excellent weighting of the clutch pedal, while the quality of the gearshift itself was slick and reasonably short-of-throw. The low-down availability of the three-pot’s 148lb ft meant there wasn’t any need to constantly rev the engine out to get moving, either.
Out of the traffic and on the move, the Fabia estate remains much the same to drive as the hatch, which means a comfort-biased set-up is prevalent. Vertical body control remains decently tidy over low-frequency undulations, though sudden compressions are more unforgiving. Its secondary ride is generally good, too, with only larger lumps and ruts taking more of a toll on comfort levels.
The 109bhp engine doesn’t feel a great deal more urgent than the 94bhp unit we originally sampled in the hatch - likely down to the estate’s additional weight - but there’s enough poke on offer here to get the Skoda up to speed in reasonable fashion.